Why do you do what you do?

This is a question I believe we don’t ask ourselves enough.

Ultimately, as Christians, our faith provides an answer to this vague question.

God should be the center of our lives and no matter our calling, no matter our task. He should be the one that drives it all.

In essence, He is the answer to our “why?”.

Martin Luther King Jr. describes what I believe to be the best answer to “why?” in his sermon, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life”:

When I was in Montgomery, Alabama, I went to a shoe shop quite often, known as the Gordon Shoe Shop. And there was a fellow in there that used to shine my shoes, and it was just an experience to witness this fellow shining my shoes. He would get that rag, you know, and he could bring music out of it. And I said to myself, “This fellow has a Ph.D. in shoe shining.”

What I’m saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; (Go ahead) sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

If you can’t be a pine on the top of a hill
Be a scrub in the valley—but be
The best little scrub on the side of the hill,
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway just be a trail
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or fail—
Be the best of whatever you are.

The answer to “why?” is in who we serve.

Dr. King’s favorite shoe shiner woke up every morning and set out to be the best shoe shiner he could be.

No matter who you are, God has blessed you immensely.

Maybe it’s with a great talent, maybe it’s with a great personalty, maybe it’s with a great mind.

Why waste it today?

Wake up every morning and strive to be the best you can be.

Let all the host of heaven and earth pause and say, “Here lived a great doctor”, “Here lived a great mother.”, “Here lived a great father.”, “Here lived a great teacher.”, “Here lived a great student.”, “Here lived a great friend.”

Dr. King reminds us that no matter our calling, we are God’s children and that is “why?”.

The Supervisor’s Prayer

Lord, when I am wrong, make me willing to change. When I am right, make me easy to live with. So strengthen me that the power of my example will far exceed the authority of my rank.

One of the biggest influences in my life, Dave Ramsey, mentioned this prayer in passing on his radio show several months ago.

Many view Dave simply as a personal financial coach. Although he has made a name for himself as a financial coach, he has made some waves over the past couple years as a leadership coach.

His book, EntreLeadership, teaches those in leadership positions how to be efficient and Godly examples for their team members.

Although I am not a supervisor, I do manage a team of volunteers on a weekly basis at our local church. Every week I have to check myself and make sure that I am being a Godly example to my team members in everything that I do.

Even if you aren’t in a leadership position people still view you as a leader. Whether you stand up for something you believe in or simply show Christ to someone today, you are a leader.

This prayer is for all of us. We are all leaders. No matter the scale, no matter the platform.

The Hands of Worship

There I sat. In an unfamiliar church on a Sunday morning for the first time in years. The sanctuary smaller than expected. I was hugging the back wall, in the very last pew, like any good Baptist would do. With every step, the worn hardwood floors of that old balcony creaked.

My eyes scan the room as the service begins. New faces all around. As my eyes continued to wander, I noticed someone. Someone standing in front of the left side of the altar. I continued to observe for a minute and then I realized, she was translating the announcements in sign language. As I continued to watch I noticed the people sitting in the first two pews in front of her. All of them were attentively watching her sign instead of watching the speaker on the stage. Interesting, I thought. This was a first, but a lovely sight. Even those who were deaf could come to church and hear Gods Word.

The service continued and the band started to play. I occasionally peered over to the left side of the sanctuary. Partially because I was distracted, but partially because it was such a great sight. As worship began, I saw something I will never forget.

As we began to sing, almost simultaneously, every person in those front two pews began to raise their hands. At first I couldn’t figure out what they were doing, then it was apparent. They were signing the words to the song. Upon that realization, tears began to well up in my eyes. It was such a beautiful sight.

Fifteen or twenty people worshiping in their own way, worshiping our Lord in the only way they could. They couldn’t sing, but that didn’t matter.

I lose sight of the fact that we all serve the same God on a daily basis. How amazing is it that we can worship the Almighty God every single day?

So, in an unfamiliar church on a Sunday morning for the first time in years, I came in worried about myself. Worried about acceptance. Thinking about everything but Christ, and left with a blessing. A blessing not from a song, a sermon, or a musical performance, but from hands. The hands of worship.

Shade Trees

I once heard an old Southern Baptist preacher tell this story. For the life of me I cant remember his name, but I think about this almost every day.

If you don’t have the God-given blessing of being from the South, first I would like to sincerely apologize, you may not understand the intricate role a shade tree can play on a hot summers day.

Here in Alabama, the temperature can soar upwards of 100 degrees on a July or August afternoon. And let me tell you, this isn’t that dry heat they talk about out in Nevada or Arizona, no sir. This my friends is a heat where the humidity is so high that it might as well be raining outside. So, after a long day of working out in the yard or enjoying a picnic, its about time to seek shelter from the blazing hot sun. Many southerners will attest that the best and sometimes only option is a broad shade tree. Something like a large, time tested, and weathered oak tree.

See, heres the thing. Trees this size are old. If you were to cut it down and count the rings theres no telling how many you would find. We as refugees under its broad shade are just beneficiaries.

More than likely, someone had the forethought to plant the tree that you are sitting under a very long time ago. Way before you were even born or maybe even before your parents were born.

This practice isn’t just found in nature, its applicable to life as well. Listen here. No matter who you are, where you come from, or where you are going, someone did something for you long before you even realized what they were doing. Someone made a sacrifice for you. Someone invested countless hours into your life to make you who you are today.

Think for a second. If we all go back, Im sure someone will pop into our mind.

And just as the individual who planted that oak tree you’re sitting under today may never have the privilege to reap the benefits of their harvest and seek shelter under its shade. The same is true for the person who invested time into your life.

They may have passed on, moved away, or just have been distanced from you for some reason. They were an intricate part of your life, even if you didn’t know it. But they may never be able to sit under the shade tree that you planted.

Your life is the shade tree. Maybe your parents, grandparents, former teacher, or preacher is the one who first planted that tiny little seed.

And maybe, just maybe, your children, your neighbor, your Sunday school classmates, or that person you pass in the office everyday is the one that will reap the benefits of your shade.

This is why we live. To bless others. Don’t ever forget that, and today, take the time to thank that person that planted the seed that eventually grew to be you, if you can. If you cant, share that feeling with someone else. Maybe tell your story, or go plant a seed in someone else’s life.

Love on them. Invest time into their life and then sit back and watch. Maybe you’ll be able to sit under their shade one day.

Use the Day, Never Waste Another Moment

Use the day and never waste another moment. Time is something that we can never get back. In today’s society we measure wealth in money, possessions, or even in popularity. Sure, wealth can be all those things, but want me to tell you who the most successful people are? The most successful people are those that don’t waste the day. They capitalize on every God given moment.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve wasted away more days than I can count, but I’m going to make an effort to never waste another day.

The Paul Bear Bryant Prayer:

This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is very important because I am Exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever.
Leaving something in its place I have traded for it.
I want it to be a gain, not loss – good, not evil.
Success, not failure in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it.

We aren’t guaranteed a tomorrow. Don’t waste today.